Moving on to my next set of doors

Luckily, I have a key to each one
Luckily, I have a key to each one

Well, that’s that.

The latest round of work on the western is done. Taking a little break while waiting for some feedback from friends and trusted colleagues, then off it goes to one more professional consultant. Hopefully not too much more to do with it after that.

(Also gearing up to enter it in a couple of contests next year.)

So what now? Easy.

Start researching potential managers to query about it, and get started on the next script – one in particular that may not need as much work as originally expected.

These are thrilling times we live in, chums, with bigger and better things yet to come.

And which of your many projects are you focusing on right now?

Shoulders once again shrugged

A couple of months ago I had the good fortune to attend the Great American PitchFest in beautiful downtown Burbank. Overall, it was a great experience and I’m very thankful I did it. I’d pitched the fantasy-adventure and the western to several productions companies and managers. Responses were generally favorable, including compliments on my pitches and a few requests.

I was feeling pretty positive about it as a whole, but as experience has taught me, opted to hold off on writing the job resignation letter and chilling the bottle of victory champagne. Just because the scripts were requested didn’t mean anything would happen.

And of course, I was right.

While I still haven’t heard from a handful of them (and honestly, don’t expect to), the rest have politely passed.

Slightly disappointing, but definitely not heartbreaking. This is the nature of the business. C’est la vie, baby.

In fact, I don’t bear any of them any ill will whatsoever. Their interests were piqued, they checked it out and decided it just wasn’t for them. Nothing else. I think it’s saying something that I got that far.

So although those temporary thoughts of “Whoo! Moving forward!” may have been temporarily scuttled, this just reinforces my commitment to making it happen. I’m of the opinion that both scripts are of high caliber (and the continuing polish/rewrite of the western will make it even more so), and am certainly not going to sit around feeling sorry for myself. I’d rather be productive and keep trying to get better.

Any writer who goes into this and thinks it’ll be easy is in for a very rude awakening. The amount of time and effort it requires just to get good at it, let alone good enough that you can compete with those who actually do it for a living, is overwhelming to begin with. There will be many, many crushing disappointments before you even reach what could be considered a significant victory, so you learn to roll with the punches. You have to. If you don’t handle disappointment well, you’re in the wrong business.

As I’ve said in many a conversation, there isn’t anything I’d rather be doing than writing. It may take longer than I’d like for good things to happen, but there’s no way I’m slowing down. This is just another pothole on a very long road.

So on that note, pedal to the metal and full speed ahead.

Not speeding-bullet-fast, but getting there

The cape helps.
The cape helps.

The edit/rewrite/polish of the western continues, and have to admit I’m actually surprised at how fast the process is moving.

Maybe it’s working with a pen and an actual hard copy of the script, which for some reason is always more productive than doing it on the computer.

Maybe it’s all the ideas stemming from the great notes and feedback I’ve received.

Or maybe it’s simply a culmination of the experience of having done this so many times before. Putting my money on this one.

I’d estimated the rewrite would take me maybe 5 to 6 weeks, schedule permitting. There are a few sequences that need some major work, some that need significant trimming, and plenty of minor tweaks and adjustments to be made. But just a few days in, and I’ve already passed the halfway point.

At this rate, there’s no reason I couldn’t be done within the next 2 weeks. After that, it goes out for one more round of professional feedback. I honestly didn’t think this would happen this fast.

I think maintaining a steady work schedule, a definite commitment to the craft and that internal drive/compulsion to succeed have all contributed to getting me to this point in my abilities. I’m more than willing (one might even say eager) to do the work, and the more I do it, the easier the whole process seems.

Of course there are days when I’m not productive, but even those are getting fewer and far between.

Hopefully you’re also able to devote some time each day to getting some writing done. Don’t be discouraged if it seems too hard or overwhelming right now. Keep at it. On top of that, get feedback and read scripts. Build up your knowledge and apply it to your work.

Before you know it, you’re done and ready to jump into whatever comes next (although it might take more than a single bound).

Maybe I have a shot at Miss Congeniality

Many will enter, but only one will win
Beneath these pleasant exteriors exist cunning, ferocious competitors

The past few weeks have been exciting to watch as the latest results were announced for some of the major screenwriting contests.

First, congrats to everybody who advanced! It’s always thrilling to see good things happen for friends and trusted colleagues. Make sure you let them know you’re glad for them.

And if your contest email included the word “Unfortunately,…” it’s not the end of the world. Believe me. There’s a long list of reasons why your script didn’t make the cut. It happens. We’ve all been there. Getting upset about it won’t do you any good. The sooner you put it behind you, the better off you’ll be.

Once you’ve gone through the last of the 5 stages, you’ve got several months to really embrace the opportunity to put more work into your script (or scripts) so you can resubmit it/them again next year.

You want your scripts to do better? Do the work to make them better. Get feedback. Pay for professional notes if you can. Whatever it takes. You’re going up against literally thousands of other writers and their scripts. This isn’t the time to hold back.

Entering contests was something I did not do this year, primarily because I didn’t think my scripts were ready. The western needs at least 1-2 more drafts, and I’m going back and forth as to which one to do after that. I’ve never entered two at the same time, but based on how the writing goes over the next few months, might consider it.

So consider me among those thousands competing against you next year, and remember that each and every one of us wants to win just as much as you do.

Good luck.

Bogie said it best

I’ve talked about this before, but recent events have warranted a revisiting of the topic.

When I connect with somebody or somebody connects with me on social media, I thank them and ask how their latest project is coming along. I ask because I actually am interested, and just think it’s cool to hear about what other people are working on.

There are several types of responses:

1. They describe what they’re working on, and end by asking me the same question. This happens the most frequently, which is great. It actually feels like a conversation, and I’ve made some great connections this way.

2. The cut-and-paste boilerplate response that reads exactly like one. “Thanks! Check out my video/like my Facebook page/donate to my Kickstarter, etc.” While I can understand this approach, it comes across as “I’m only connecting with you to get promote myself/my stuff”. I’ve never clicked through, and suspect a lot of others don’t either.

-An exception to this has been the rare combination of the above two. Someone described their project, included a link, and asked about me. The fact that they apparently made the extra effort to do a little of everything, without overdoing it, actually made me interested in checking out their link (which I did).

3. No response whatsoever. Perhaps you’ve not exactly grasped the concept that ‘social media’ includes ‘social’, as in ‘interacting with others’? Will I ever ever hear from you? It makes no difference to me that you dropped the ball on this, but if you’re not going to follow through on your end, then why bother doing this at all?

On that note…

3a. After sending my standard initial response, and getting no response, once in a while I’ll receive something like this (as I did earlier this week) from someone who’d asked me to connect several months ago: “Hey how’s it going? I’m what you call fresh meat to the industry so maybe you can help me”

My wise friend Bob sums it up quite nicely here, but I’d like to add my two cents.

You came to me, remember? Apparently not.

I responded, because I like to be polite in this scenario.

Then it was your turn, but you didn’t do anything. Now you’re back after a prolonged period of time with a very straightforward “I know we’ve never interacted before, but this is what you could do for me”.

I could, but I sure as hell ain’t gonna. (I’d be astonished if this person got even one response saying “Sure!”)

I hate to break this to you, but your networking skills suck. I’m more than happy to help somebody out if/when I can, but you have to earn it first. Popping out of my distant past with a generic plea for help isn’t going to do it.

I’ve put a lot of time and effort into building and maintaining my network of friends and trusted colleagues, and many of them have done the exact same thing.

Why haven’t you?